Major Ray Harryhausen retrospective announced for Summer 2020 – in Scotland

Art for Jason and the Argonauts. © Ray Harryhausen
Art for Jason and the Argonauts. © Ray Harryhausen

The Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art and the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation have announced the dates for Ray Harryhausen – Titan of Cinema – an exhibition celebrating the work of the extraordinary film maker Ray Harryhausen, opening 23rd May 2020 and running until October, encompassing his entire career.

Ray’s wife, Diana, had very strong links to Scotland, as the great-great granddaughter of explorer David Livingstone. Ray himself designed a statue of the legendary missionary being attacked by a lion, one of his last projects; the statue now sits outside the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre.

Special effects superstar Ray Harryhausen elevated stop motion animation to an art during the 1950s to 1980s. For the first time, his collection will be showcased in its entirety, and, as such, this will be the largest and widest-ranging exhibition of his work ever, with newly restored and previously unseen material from his incredible archive.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad - Ray Harryhausen
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
Jason and the Argonauts - Ray Harryhausen
Jason and the Argonauts
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers - Ray Harryhausen
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers

Ray Harryhausen’s work included the films Jason and the Argonauts, the Sinbad films of the 1950s and 70s, One Million Years B.C and Mighty Joe Young, and a wider portfolio including children’s fairy tales and commercials. He also inspired a generation of film-makers such as Peter Jackson, Aardman Animation, Tim Burton, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg, and his influence on blockbuster cinema can be felt to this day.

Ray Harryhausen Film Poster Montage

Sadly, Harryhausen died in May 2013 but he left his collection, which includes all of his film related artefacts to the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, that he set up in 1986 to look after his extensive collection, to protect his name and to further the art of model stop-motion animation.

Announced this weekend, this exhibition for Summer 2020 at the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art is in collaboration with the Harryhausen Foundation and will celebrate what would have been Harryhausen’s 100th birthday year.

“It is my hope that by setting up the Foundation the items can be kept as a coherent group,” he wrote when setting up the collection, “and that they will not suffer the fate of work by other artists which have been sold off individually to private collections where they become items of curiosity at the expense of their educational qualities or which have been stored in museum deposits as a curatorial personnel or their interests change.”

The archive consists of a treasure trove of material from Ray’s life, ranging from storyboards, paintings and scripts, through to original models, film equipment and plaster moulds. Much of this material has never been seen before, and as such the Foundation are aiming to present Ray’s work in a manner through it that has never been exhibited in the past where possible.

As well as providing such an influence on future filmmakers, the Foundation wish to showcase the artistry and genius of Ray’s creations, emphasising his unique talent.

#Harryhausen100 - Ray Harryhausen

As part of a series of events and initiatives under the banner #Harryhausen100, this exhibition will be accompanied by screenings, workshops and more, bringing his creations to life once more and celebrating the legacy of a filmmaker who changed the face of modern cinema.

The exhibition is still under development and more details will be disclosed in due course.

The National Galleries of Scotland cares for, develops, researches and displays the national collection of Scottish and international art and, with a lively and innovative programme of activities, exhibitions, education and publications, aims to engage, inform and inspire the broadest possible public.

Talking of Ray Harryhausen, Titan Books released Harryhausen – The Movie Posters, by Richard Holliss, in 2018, a book devoted solely to the promotional art associated with his films. Featuring posters from all over the world, as well as commentary from the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, this is an essential addition to any fan’s library, as is Harryhausen: The Lost Movies by John Walsh, released last year

Ray Harryhausen – Titan of Cinema | Saturday 24th October 2020 to Sunday 5th September 2021 (revised from Saturday 23rd May 2020 to Sunday 25th October 2020), The Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art (Modern Two) | Book tickets hereSign up for their eBulletin on the National Galleries web site

• The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation – – has launched a highly praised podcast with exclusive content from a series of extensive recordings made with Ray covering his life and work which are now part of the Foundation’s film and audio archive. The shows include retrospectives on classic films, unique interviews, announcements and competitions. These are free to access by the public via iTunes and Soundcloud

The Art of Ray Harryhausen

National Galleries Scotland looks at the influence that artists such Gustave Doré and John Martin exerted on the art and film-making of Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen: The grandfather of stop-frame animation

A look at the profound influence that Harryhausen had on generations of visionary film-makers

Buy Harryhausen – The Movie Posters by Richard Holliss from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Harryhausen - The Movie Posters

Harryhausen – The Movie Posters showcases the posters from all of Ray’s movies, from 1949’s Mighty Joe Young, to Clash of the Titans in 1981. There has never been a book devoted solely to the promotional art associated with these classic films.

Featuring posters from all over the world, as well as commentary from the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, this is an essential addition to any fan’s library.

Buy Harryhausen – The Lost Movies by John Walsh from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Harryhausen - The Lost Movies

A journey into the thrilling films that almost could-have-been, from the mind of the stop-motion genius who revolutionised Hollywood special effects

Known for his iconic stop-motion creatures, Ray Harryhausen was at the forefront of Hollywood special effects for much of the 20th century. His films include One Million Years B.C., Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts, among others. But for every film that reaches the big screen, half a dozen projects are never realised.

Harryhausen: The Lost Movies explores Harryhausen’s unrealised films, including unused ideas, projects he turned down and scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor. This book includes never-been-seen-before artwork, sketches, photos and test footage from the Harryhausen Foundation archives.

Buy The Art of Ray Harryhausen by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

The Art of Ray Harryhausen

In An Animated Life (Aurum, 2003) Ray Harryhausen told the story of his career as the acknowledged grandmaster of special effects in the pre-computer era, the creator of classics such as One Million Years BC, Jason and the Argonauts and The Clash of Titans.

In this book the focus is not on the movies themselves, but on the vast hoard of artwork which Harryhausen has carefully preserved in his London home. These include preliminary sketches, elaborate drawings of key scenes and carefully plotted storyboards, all produced as he sought backing for his next venture and prepared to undertake the laborious task of animating the prehistoric creatures, aliens and mythical monsters which stole scene after scene from the human actors. There are also the tiny, elaborately articulated models which Harryhausen created to play these roles and the bronzes which he cast to preserve their forms in perpetuity.

This stunning array of images is a tribute to the scope of Harryhausen’s imagination and his artistic skills which no student of special effects or cinema history will want to be without.

With thanks to Jeremy Briggs | An earlier version of this story noted only provisional dates; the article has been amended with the final ones (updated in October 2020), and links added to National Galleries Scotland features on the creator

Categories: Animation, Art and Illustration, Books, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions, Film, Other Worlds

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